Monday, October 20, 2008

Plug In America Fundraiser

Recently I had the chance to show my support for Plug In America, an electric vehicle advocacy group, by attending their first fundraiser event! Along with the company of some friends, I enjoyed an evening with green food (and drinks!), typically perfect SoCal weather, a DJ spinning some of my favorite tunes, encouraging words from other electric vehicle enthusiasts, as well as the vehicles themselves!

An all electric Porsche Speedster by Rev. Gadget & his Left Coast Electric. Wins points for being electric, obvious bonus points for having style. The only way you would know it's electric by looking is the lack of tailpipes!

Posing with the preproduction prototype of the Chevrolet Volt. While I'm glad that the big boys in Detroit are lifting an eyebrow at the potentially huge market of electric vehicles, I'm not holding out for any stellar designs from them. At the party I was able to get a look at the Volt up close and after a few minutes realized a showstopper: GM's designers don't understand the freedom that they have when it comes to an electric vehicle. As you can tell from the photo above, the Volt looks like any other car on the road. It's clear they aren't taking a clean sheet of paper to approach this opportunity. Rather, they're just looking at it as a second chance to appear green (environmentally) -- and not looking to make any green (money). It's not particularly aerodynamic, it has a completely ornamental milled aluminum 'radiator' in front, and the interior wasn't inspiring.

Honestly, if Detroit is going to actually produce it, I'm all for it. Help saturate the market with EVs, drive the cost of batteries down, and change how people think in the good-ole' gas-guzzlin' USA. But don't count on my order, I'm already happily commited to the Aptera. :-)

See more of my night in Stefano's video:
Holden acts as an Electric Vehicle Chauffeur at 1 minute, 50 seconds.
And I give AC Propulsion's eBox vehicle a bit of a test drive at 34 minutes:


Thanks for all media on this page go to Stef, find more pictures and a great write-up paragraph at his site.

PS. Californians: Vote "NO" on Prop 10. Despite it's name ('California Renewable Energy and Clean Alternative Fuel Act'), don't be tricked! Read more here. I can't find any credible group that is supporting this ruse.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day 2008 - Poverty

I'm a bit late to the game, but slipping in under the buzzer -- my post on Blog Action Day is posted on October 15th. The idea of this special "day" is to raise awareness on one issue each year -- last year was the environment. The result is a concerted dialogue all over the web with different viewpoints and suggestions.

I'm contributing by listing two ways that I believe can help curtail the effects of poverty. Though I believe helping people necessarily means giving (our time, money, belongings, or emotions), I see two distinct options:
Conditional and Unconditional giving.

Conditional Giving
This a term that I'm using to describe a gift that can be repaid. Some people in this world know how to help themselves, but lack the means to carry out their ambitions and plans. Microlending is a form of microfinance that helps these 'pre-bankable' people (meaning they lack collateral, steady employment, and credit history) by extending loans. In a ranking and report on the subject, Forbes magazine wrote: "Billionaires, global leaders and Nobel Prize recipients are hailing these direct loans to uncollateralised would-be entrepreneurs as a way to lift them out of poverty while creating self-sustaining businesses."

My microlender of choice is - Loans that Change Lives: Kiva's mission is to connect people through lending for the sake of alleviating poverty. Kiva is the world's first person-to-person micro-lending website, empowering individuals to lend directly to unique entrepreneurs in the developing world.

By the numbers, Kiva shows ~1,000 defaulted loans, ~25,000 paid in full, and ~38,000 active loans.

Unconditional Giving
There are people who simply don't currently have the means to lift themselves out of poverty - because of a lack of education, health, nutrition, the list goes on. For these people, the best we can do is give unconditionally.
The organization I'd like to highlight is GuluWalk. To paraphrase Wikipedia: GuluWalk is an initiative which highlights the plight of Acholi children in northern Uganda who used to trek up to 20 kilometers each night to town centers for fear of being maimed, raped, abducted or even killed by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), a rebel paramilitary group that has been operating in northern Uganda since 1987. An estimated 20,000 children have been abducted by the LRA for use as soldiers and sex slaves.


Due to the long history with this crisis, it's easy to forget the gravity of the situation. Peace talks have broken down, and the LRA is active as ever: two weeks ago they kidnapped two classrooms of 5th and 6th graders.

To financially assist Kiva, click here.
To financially assist GuluWalk, click here.

There's no time like the present.

Here's a 5 minute segment on Kiva by PBS:

Straight Talk on my future cars.

Thanks to a friend, I found out that the normally quite harmless folks over at AutoBlogGreen have been carefully predicting my every move! The latest offence coming just a few days ago regarding my future automobile ownership (link). The screenshot below proclaims "Holden to get Chevy Volt"!

I can only counter with "No, I'm not." And proceed to tell you that as I've noted before on this blog, the Aptera is the next car for me! My deposit is down, and my waiting list number issued! (You can reserve an all electric version, or the plug-in hybrid version for a fully refundable $500 over here.)

The winds of change are blowing a new car into town. And I plan on driving one! :-)

Okay, honestly, I do realize that the Chevy Volt article is about the manufacturer's intentions to try to sell the Volt down under. But what I am saying is that even with my name slapped on the side of this particular electric vehicle, I will not be buying one. From what I saw at the Plug In America fundraiser recently (more on that to come), Chevy is missing the boat on this whole electric vehicle opportunity. More to come.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Good is where it's at.

Just thought I'd do a quick Friday post to keep folks excited about the world.

If you haven't heard of Good Magazine, I advise you to get over to their website and sign up for a subscription. Right now they have a (Radiohead-esque) promotion where you can pay whatever you like. All of the money that you decide to give goes to the charity of your choice (magazines are paid for by advertising, not subscription fees didn't you know?)

Good is a magazine for people who give a damn. I've described it to friends as a combination of art, politics, emerging technologies and general things that are "good" about this world of ours. Oh, and each issue has a central theme including a wicked quantitative graphical section.

Graphic with how much power is output by the sun vs. humans' power consumption.

So get on over, donate a few bucks ($20?) and support a great publication that will enrich your life!